Don't expect Arizona (5-4) to look past any of their remaining opponents now that they have won 2 straight and are right in the thick of the NFC wIldcard race. Posting wins against underachievers Atlanta and Houston at home, the Cardinals take to the road in week 11 against Jacksonville (1-8) at EverBank Field hoping to improve on their 1-3 road mark.
The Cardinals are averaging nearly 27 points per game this season featuring an offense led by 12 year veteran Carson Palmer (194/316 2154 12 TD 15 INT). While his stats may look a bit at best mediocre and deceiving, he has thrown only 2 picks the last 2 weeks. One area of focus however is closing games more efficiently, as evident by his 7/17 for 42 yards in the second half. Top targets Larry Fitzgerald (39-493 5 TD) and Michael Floyd (36-464 2 TD) have endured moderate success to date, but are also preventing the passing game from advancing even more due to untimely drops. Fitzgerald has been hobbled by a hamstring injury and Floyd is battling a sore shoulder, however both are expected to play. Andre Ellington (54-388 7.2 1 TD) has made the most of his touches and is another option for Palmer in the flat (24-216 1 TD). Rashard Mendenhall (105-323 3.1 3 TD) has struggled all season behind a line that could certainly better protect Palmer, especially if the Cardinals have serious wildcard intentions down the stretch. Arizona is just 24th in the league in total rushing offense.
Jacksonville finally got off the schneid with a 29-27 win at Tennessee in week 10 and will look to play the role of spoiler this afternoon. Chad Henne (146/241 1630 3 TD 7 INT) wasn't particularly effective against Tennessee throwing 2 picks but remains the starter over Blaine Gabbert. Cecil Shorts (48-607 1 TD) has taken over the receiving duties after Justin Blackmon was suspended indefinitely. The Jags remain especially thin in the passing game so expect Maurice Jones Drew (143-432 3.0 3 TD) to get the bulk of the carries in an attempt to methodically move the offense. Jacksonville will try to extend the game keeping Arizona's offense from putting up points early. Despite being limited in the ground game due to inefficiency and injuries, Jones-Drew (20-143) is a viable second option for short drops. Ace Sanders (16-182) could also see more action as the secondary receiver to Shorts.
Palmer and the offense cannot afford to make mistakes Tennessee made last week which gave Jacksonville short fields to capitalize. Henne's offensive line could be in for a rough day as Arizona gets plenty of penetration up front. Patrick Peterson will get the majority of the secondary duties on Shorts which could force more runs to be efficient. In three home games this season‚ the Jaguars have been outscored‚ 89-11‚ and have not scored a touchdown. While they're assured of not going 0-16, a reality check is certainly back in order considering they're not a good football team. If Arizona can beat the teams they're supposed to, they will be vying for a postseason spot at season's end.